Taking the Hazmat Drama Out of Your Risk Assessment

RiskWatch is always looking for ways to“Bring the Standard to Life”. In this entertaining blog, you’ll be asked to think about Hazmat in a new way… first as the subject of the silver screen, and then as a real-world standard that protects people and assetsevery day. Finally, you’ll learn how SecureWatch, our flagship risk assessment solution, incorporates this critical standard into the risk assessment process.

Ever seen a “hazmat” disaster movie? In it, we have the hyper-intelligent rebel who’s recently given up on The System as he refuses to cave into greedy corporate interests. During the next several hours of “relevant-to-our-world” cinema, the hero will: save the town/country/planet; humiliate a rich, arrogant CEO; and win back that special woman from his past while also managing to check off every politically correct talking point. That’s entertainment! Not surprisingly, ACTUAL hazmat issues don’t present themselves like they do in the movies.

In the real world, we overwhelmingly have responsible corporate leaders who make every effort to comply with government regulations regarding the management of hazardous materials—not just because it’s the law AND good business to do so, but also because these executivestend to love the Earth and the living things on it every bit as much as anyone else. What’s not fantasy, however, is that hazardous materials do pose serious problems and dealing with them requires a diligent and comprehensive commitment to thoughtful and proactive protocols.

Hazardous materials are defined by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management as “any item or agent (biological, chemical, radiological, and/or physical), which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors.” Every day, across the world, numerous incidents involving hazardous materials take place. Consider some of the following, as reported by the Hazmat Global Incident Map, that took place in the U.S. during the week of Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, 2015

As one can see from the above list, incidents range from actual evacuation to mere “scares”, yet they were all taken very seriously. Government regulations certainly emphasize the gravity of hazmat incidents. Principally, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) was enacted in 1975 to "protect against the risks to life, property, and the environment that are inherent in the transportation of hazardous material in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce."

The HTMA has four provisions for handling hazardous materials covering: procedures and policies; material designations and labeling; packaging requirements; and operational rules. Major amendments, Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (1990) and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Authorization Act (1994), have further broadened the scope of the law to the point that that no less than 13 federal agencies are tasked with enforcement—from the Atomic Energy Commission to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Industries most likely to be concerned with managing hazardous materials include Transportation (i.e. Shipping, Maritime, and Aviation) as well as Energy, Chemical, and Manufacturing … among others. In fact, it’s fairly easy to picture scenarios where many, many types of organizations could find themselves dealing with hazmat issues—local governments (ex. waste disposal), healthcare (ex. biohazards) and universities (ex. scientific research) come immediately to mind.

For most of these organizations, responsibly handling hazardous materials is just another form of risk management that must be undertaken. For example, security managers for energy companies would be familiar with the NATF Practices Document for NERC Reliability Standard CIP-014-1 Requirement R4 that addresses management of hazardous materials. (Specifically, these cover hazmat storage in relation to loading docks, entrances, uncontrolled parking, transformers, control houses, and other critical assets.)

As a potential threat to the physical security of an industrial site, the dangers posed by hazardous materials easily fall within the purview of RiskWatch’s SecureWatch Risk Assessment solution. But instead of relying on a clichéd movie hero to ride to the rescue, company executives can instead employ a comprehensive, automated process that thoroughly identifies vulnerabilities, evaluates asset risks and provides cost-effective recommendations for mitigating threats—like hazmat—as well as any other potential physical security problem. And as a result of SecureWatch, there should never be a story that merits retelling as a big-budget disaster movie.

Security requirements established with a SecureWatch Risk Assessment represent the collective intelligence of government regulations, industry best practices and decades of professional expertise. Most importantly, these standards reflect real-life situations that can endanger people, assets and reputations. SecureWatch cost effectively accelerates the risk assessment process so that you have more time for risk mitigation and decision making that supports the best interests of your people and your business. Schedule your demo today and see for yourself why SecureWatch is the preeminent risk assessment solution on the market.